Slowly, as the strong, plodding oxen drew the wagons which Joseph had sent for his father, Jacob made progress toward Egypt, leaving the promised land of Canaan behind him. Upon arriving in Egypt he sent Judah to inform Joseph that they had reached Egypt, and to seek to make sure that they settled in the land of Goshen.
That he sent Judah and not Reuben is noteworthy. Judah was his fourth son while Reuben was his firstborn. And it is to be observed that Judah is coming more and more to the foreground in this account of what happened in this portion of the Day of Shadows. Indeed there is that shameful act of Judah recorded inGenesis 38 that reveals to us that he went in unto what he considered to be an harlot and actually was his daughter-in-law, to whom he had promised his youngest son to raise up seed for his dead brother, and whom he had disappointed in that he failed to give her this son when he was grown. But after falling into this sin, which Judah confessed, he is presented on the pages of Holy Writ as taking leadership in the family. This indeed is prophetic, for out of Judah’s loins came the Christ Who is the Head of His Church and the King of all kings and Lord over all lords. The man in whose line of descendants Christ is to be born did manifest kingly dignity and a gift for, leadership and rule.
Judah it is who persuaded the other brothers to sell Joseph rather than to kill him, and so to enrich themselves with silver (Genesis 37:26). Judah is the one who spoke up when his father “chewed them out” for telling this ruler in Egypt that they had a younger brother at home (Genesis 43:3). Judah steps forward and speaks words which move his father to let them take Benjamin along to Egypt (Genesis 45:8). In Genesis 44:1 we read of Judah as the head of the eleven brothers. For we read, “and Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house.” We do not read that Reuben and his brethren came, but Judah and his brethren. Not the oldest and the younger brethren, but Judah and brethren both older and younger than himself is the way Moses, as infallibly guided, recorded this procession to Joseph’s house. There it is Judah who speaks and says, “What shall we say unto my Lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found” (Genesis 44:18). And in Genesis 44:18we read that, “Then Judah came near unto him (Joseph), and said, Oh my lord let thy servant I pray thee speak a word in my lord’s ear. . . .”
Nothing strange is it now then to read in Genesis 45:28 that Jacob sends Judah “before him unto Joseph, to lead his face to Goshen.” And it was not because Reuben lay with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine, that he is replaced by Judah. Later Jacob calls him unstable as water. But Judah also committed that adultery with Tamar of which we spoke a moment ago. A bit later Jacob also says of Judah that the sceptre, or ruling rod, would not depart from between his feet until Shiloh (Christ) should come. There was now already ruling ability, leadership evident in Judah. This will be sanctified in David and Solomon and have its perfect fulfillment in Christ when He is born “The King of the Jews” and so worshipped by the wise men.
No, Judah did not give something to that Christ Child. His gift of leadership was not handed down by Judah through all these generations to be deposited in the Christ. Judah gave Christ nothing. Christ gave Judah all that he had. But God was indicating what line of Jacob’s sons would bring forth the Leader, The Peace Maker, or Prince of Peace. Jacob began more and more to lean upon Judah; and from all that we have quoted it is evident that the other brothers also looked to him for leadership. And it was all officially declared when Jacob, moved infallibly by the Spirit, prophesied those words concerning the sceptre not departing from Judah until the Prince of Peace is come. Jacob did not suddenly see God’s purpose in Judah when he blessed his twelve sons and pronounced that the ruling rod would not depart from Judah till Shiloh is come any more than suddenly he saw that Reuben was unstable as water, and that instruments of cruelty were in the habitations of Simeon and Levi. God had shown him now already which son it was to whom He had given the gift of leadership.
In this connection it may also be stated that Jacob did not lean so heavily on Judah and did not send him to inform Joseph of their safe arrival because he had been the spokesman before Joseph. Jacob saw leadership in Judah; and when Jacob lined up his sons to pronounce the blessings of God upon them, God revealed by His Spirit that The Leader of God’s people would come out of his loins.
But equally important and interesting is the fact that Jacob sends Judah so that his face may be directed to Goshen, that is, that he may know the way to Goshen. He needed directions in this strange land. He had no road map and no Egyptian guide to tell them whether to turn to the south or go further west. He must know in what direction he must face to reach the land designated by Joseph (Genesis 45:10).
We find that Joseph first spoke of this land of Goshen, and he told his brothers, before they left Egypt to go and get their father, that they should settle in Goshen. Jacob sought the land of Goshen because of the instructions his sons brought home from Joseph. But above all and first we must bear in mind that God chose this part of Egypt for His people. Yes, we may add that this is the section of the land that the Egyptians also wanted these Israelites to settle in, because they were shepherds, and shepherds were an “abomination unto the Egyptians” (Genesis 46:34). It was the odor of the sheep that clung to their clothes that made the Egyptians abhor and loathe shepherds.
It is claimed by some that Goshen was geographically near where Joseph had his residence. This is possible but must not be given as the sole reason why he chose Goshen. The statement in Genesis 45:10, “And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me” can be taken in a relative sense. Surely being in the land of Goshen they were nearer to Joseph than way up there in the land of Canaan. However, Joseph’s reason for choosing this land was not a fleshly one and a selfish one but a spiritual reason, and one that concerned itself with the whole covenant people, yea with the cause of God’s covenant as his father’s family represented it in that day.
As we pointed out above, it was first of all God’s choice and then Joseph’s in the love of God. There are a few texts which appear later in Scripture that apply here. There is Numbers 23:9 where we read, “From the top of the rock I see him (Israel), and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.” Then, too, there isDeuteronomy 33:28, “Israel then shall dwell in safety alone.” There is also that New Testament passage in II Corinthians 6:14-18 where the church is warned against being unequally yoked with unbelievers and called to come out from among them and be a separate people. Nor should we overlook the similar circumstances when Israel came up out of Egypt some four hundred years later and entered the land of Canaan which was full of unbelieving idol worshippers. We read in Exodus 23:32, 33, “Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee to sin against Me; for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.” But listen to this: “And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee” (Deuteronomy 7:16). This, by the way, is one of those passages which many churches today like to soft peddle because it does not fit in with their idea of God being the God of love, and because they want to insist that He hates sin but not the sinner. But let them read Psalm 5:5; Psalm 7:11; Romans 9:13; and Ephesians 5:6 which all speak of persons whom God hates, with whom He is angry and upon whom His wrath falls, and not simply on their works, wickedness, disobedience, and iniquity.
And let us not overlook Joshua’s farewell message to Israel in Joshua 23 when he declares, “Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God. Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you; Know of a certainty that the Lord your God will no longer drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off the good land which the Lord your God hath given you” (Joshua 23:11-13).
From all these passages it will be plain that Jacob’s family must live alone. There must be no mixed marriages. Their children are not to be tempted by the idols and idolatrous practices of the Egyptians. The antithesis between light and darkness must be kept. The two seeds of Genesis 3:15 (the Mother Promise) must not become one seed. The only way for them to become one is that the seed of the woman changes her spiritual position. The seed of the serpent cannot change, being spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1 and John 3:3). Satan succeeded in getting the whole human race to hate God; and all come into this world with thoroughly corrupt natures, so that even the child of God (David) must say that he was shapen in iniquity and that in sin his mother conceived him. No, he does not mean that it was sinful for his mother to conceive him, but that what she conceived was a sinful child, totally depraved because Adam had no spiritual life and gifts to hand down to his posterity. But the child of God who has been born again and so is spiritually alive still has his flesh. The world has only an old man of sin. No, that is not stating it correctly. The world has only a man of sin, and because he receives no new man in Christ, his man of sin cannot be called the old man of sin. Living according to that old man of sin, the child of God can and often does make friends with the world instead of manifesting the enmity which God gives His children against the devil and his spiritual seed. And the result is that the things of the world become a snare to the children of such believers; and soon enough, in generations to come, their children and grandchildren are seed of the serpent. All the passages above teach that. Erase the antithesis which God has made between church and world, and you do not improve the world. You cause the seed of the church to become worldly and in time to leave the church and be, in every sense of the word, the world.
To prevent this, Joseph sought a place where the Egyptians would not enter and where the Israelites would be safe from the temptations of the flesh pots of Egypt and its idolatry. Yet there are churches today who loathe and despise all such separation of church and world and openly present before their youth the world with its dainties and idolatry. Churches actually despise the gift of enmity against Satan and his seed that God in His grace gives to His Church. In these churches there is not that antithesis between light and darkness and between elect and reprobate. The whole human race is one big family, loved by God to the last individual in it. There are elect, and the rest are only potential elect. These will decide for themselves whether they will let God elect them unto life everlasting and salvation in His Son. A Goshen for them is an unthinkable thing. In fact for them a Goshen is an unchristian thing. After all, the passages we quoted, including now that one in the New Testament, are only time-conditioned and do not apply today. But what does then apply today? Do the seven letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor, and recorded in Revelation 2 and 3 apply? Are there no churches today that are lukewarm and ready to be spewed out of God’s mouth? Is it not possible any more today that a church lose its first love? Has everything changed since the book of The Revelation was written and the times now decide what holds for us today of what the timeless God has spoken?
No, no, let us have our Goshens today as well as in the Old Testament dispensation. Let us go back to what Joshua said, “Take good heed therefore to yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God.” And do we love Him when we do not fight for the truth, and let those that insult Him with false doctrines and bring strange gods into the churches influence our children and His children? Do we love Him if we despise the keys of the kingdom which He has given us? Can we be His friends and at the same time be friends of the world? Is it possible to be God’s friend and Satan’s as well? God is light. Do we show love towards Him when we approve of and defend the darkness?
We, too, should therefore seek to preserve the safety we have in our Goshen. Our calling is to stay away, far away, from all that would tempt us and especially our children to become the friends of the world, and so be alienated from God, Who in His holiness cannot fellowship with what is false and sinful. Jesus said it, “He that is not with is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30). And if we are one with the world in any spiritual sense we are against God and His Christ. And if we accept the world into our churches we are driving Christ out of them. It is as simple as all that. And it is as serious as all that.